Friday, March 13, 2009

Curry Soup with Spinach

Here’s a long post. Half of it is useful, I hope, as it describes a recipe I particularly like. The other half however, deals with a more random subject: an “Honor Scrap” meme that was recently given to me.

Okay, first to the recipes.

Curry Soup with Wilted Spinach

I don’t like the “wilted” in the name of the recipe, and don't understand why it's called a curry when no curry is called for, but that’s the way it was published in my old and beautifully food-encrusted Sunset Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. This is without a doubt my favorite vegetable soup. The flavors are extraordinary, with the broth coming close to the sweet-sour varieties one comes across in SE Asia, and it's really light and refreshing. And yet, with the inclusion of boiled spinach it can easily serve as a meal, particularly if you have some good, thick bread, and perhaps some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, to pair with it. The recipe also mentions that cooked brown rice goes well in the soup if you’re looking to make it heartier. Finally, this soup is just flat-out healthy. I try to make this twice a week if possible, just to have on hand. A small bowl makes a great mid-afternoon snack, and it goes well as a side dish for most dinners, too.

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1 medium-size tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon each cumin, ground coriander, and ground turmeric
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
2 14 oz cans vegetable broth (or 1 qt homemade)
1 pound spinach (stems removed)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Half a bunch of cilantro
Chopped roasted peanuts, cashew nuts, or pistachio nuts (optional)

1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned (5-7 minutes).

2. Stir in tomato, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato is soft (about 8 minutes). Blend in vegetable broth.

3. Bring to a boil over high heat and continue to boil until reduced to 3 cups. (I don’t wait that long.) Meanwhile, rinse spinach and, with moisture still clinging to its leaves, place in a medium- to large-sized pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until leaves are wilted (4-5 minutes). Transfer spinach to a colander and press down on it to extract as much liquid as possible.

4. Spoon spinach into soup bowls. Stir lemon juice and cilantro into hot broth. Ladle broth into bowls. Garnish with peanuts. Delicious both hot or cold.

It looks like I was honored with an “Honest Scrap” meme. I don’t really know what it is, but I understand that I’m supposed to: 1) choose a minimum of seven blogs that I find brilliant in content or design, 2) list the blogs’ names and links and notify the recipients that they’ve been given this “award,” 3) list at least ten “honest things” about myself.

To be perfectly honest, I usually don’t go in for these kinds of things as they feel a little like chain letters, but I do feel honored that Anna at Chef Wanabe, a blog that I’ve admired and visited regularly for some time, thought highly enough about my own blog to bestow this on me. So here goes.

First, my list of seven blogs:


For any of these seven, I hope I haven’t passed this on to you for the umpteenth time, or that you’re opposed to memes. If I have, or if you are, no worries; even if you pass on it, know that I enjoy your blogs enough to want to introduce them to the wider public and honor them in this small way!

Okay, now for the ten things that I decided to reveal about myself (coming up with these is harder than it sounds):

1. As a kid, I ate virtually nothing but hamburgers, Steak-Ums, and grilled cheese sandwiches. I’m not sure how I survived, but I never eat those things now.

2. Starting in college, I became vegetarian for eight or nine years. I was forced to take a break for five months while studying in Japan and living with a host-family, and then gave it up after my second long stint in Vietnam.

3. My vegetarianism started after reading only 70 pages of Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation.” I still have the book on my shelf, but I haven’t finished it because I’m afraid of turning vegetarian for another decade of my life if I do.

4. During my first meal with my Japanese host-family, I was fed the worst meal a vegetarian could possibly eat: beef served nearly raw. I managed to get through the meal by hiding mouthfuls of the very chewy meat in my napkin and flushing it down the toilet mid- and post-meal.

5. Back in high school, I was voted “sexiest legs” during my senior year. There’s no doubt in my mind that if a new vote could be called I wouldn’t even rank.

6. As a kid, I used to have contests with myself to see how many grapes I could fit inside my mouth without choking or my mom finding out or having them all spill out like a slit bag of marbles. I think I managed 40-something.

7. Now that I wrote that, I really want to see how many grapes I can fit into my adult-sized mouth.

8. The first time I ever “drove” a car was at the age of 14. My dad threw me the keys from the garage to pull it forward from beneath my driveway basketball hoop. Not realizing that the car would actually move forward after pulling the automatic handle into “D,” I panicked and proceeded to press my foot on the accelerator rather than the brake and hung a right into a stone wall just a few feet before running over my dad.

9. The second time I ever drove a car was at the age of 15. I persuaded my older brother to write a sick note for me so I could skip school in the afternoon, and then convinced him to let me drive home. Unfortunately, when forced to wait at the only stoplight between school and home I found myself facing my mother and grandmother from across the intersection. She followed us home, called my dad, and my brother and I were grounded for something like half a year. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 17. Then I promptly got the only two speeding tickets I’ve ever gotten in my life.

10. I’ve gotten into the habit of talking to my pet molly fish. I haven’t given it a name, but it gets excited like a dog when I look at it through the glass and call it “Little Buddy.”

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  1. Hi Sapuche, thank you so much for bestowing me with an “Honest Scrap” meme. I feel very honored and I look forward to all your future delicious posts!

  2. And yes, the world definitely does taste good. Yum!

  3. Oh this soup looks so great and I'm glad I currently have all the ingredients for it.
    & I welcome you for an updated contest! Muhaha.

  4. Finally somebody acknowledge fish as a pet, I always told my husband that I had a gold fish once that responded to my words and got exited with me playing with it. And he always mocked me, saying that first fish is not a pet, and they can’t remember a thing. Thanks for proving I’m not crazy.

  5. AH sapuche, congrats on your award!!! Your soup looks so TASTY!!!
    MMMMM....I just love the flavours!!
    I think it is wonderful about your pet fish!! haha!!

  6. What a yummy healthy soup! I like the coriander and cumin.

    Glad to learn more about you from this meme! Please let us know how many grapes you can put in your mouth now which would be interesting, hehehe… I always talk to my pets, I even say “Hi” to those stray cats and dogs when I see them on the streets. Please say “Hi” to your little buddy from me :)

    Thank you for tagging me, but I just did it last week! You can check it out here: What a yummy healthy soup!

    Glad to learn more about you from this meme! Please let us know how many grapes you can put in your mouth now which would be interesting, hehehe… I always talk to my pets, I even say “Hi” to those stray cats and dogs when I see them on the streets. Please say “Hi” to your little buddy from me 

    Thank you for tagging me, but I just did it last week! If you are interested to read it, you can check it out here:

  7. The spinach curry soup looks yummy! I like the nuts addition.

  8. Thanks for the meme. I have never gotten one and do not yet have an opinion about them. But coincidentally I wrote a 100 random thing about Greg post when I started this blog in November. It was intended to go into my "About Greg" section on the blog. But I never activated it. Several people told me it was "too personal". I regret not having the courage to give people access to it from the beginning and may (because of this meme) go ahead and do so very soon. Thanks! GREG

  9. Aw! Thanks- I really appreciate the mention... you probably remember I did a "25 Random Things About Me" meme fairly recently, so I'm going to sit on this for a while.
    On to the soup: garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, tumeric... sounds delicious, even without a curry leaf to be seen, and the fact that clearly the spinach is cooked waaay beyond wilted. Gosh, this would be great with some squash or yam, some garbanzo, and some grain added in.
    As for your meme answers: Hilarious driving incidents! I did driver training before I was ever allowed behind the wheel, and it was drilled into my mind that "a vehicle is a dangerous machine!" Nonetheless, the first time I was thrown the keys, I nearly backed into the truck parked across the street from my house... I blame it on the song on the radio. It sure was funny to see my mom running towards the car, waving her arms in the air, shouting "Stop! STOP! STOP!!!!!"

  10. Hey...thanks for the tag. Just did mine! =D were a vegetarian for SO long?? I can only imagine how awful your first Japanese meal must have been!

  11. A Girl Has to Eat: I should thank you for having such a great blog! I look forward to reading your “Honesty Scrap” soon if you decide to do it.

    Ozge: Aha! A contest! I’m sure you’d win, but I’m always up for making a new batch of this soup. Let me know how it turns out!

    Anna: Haha! Yes, a fish is definitely a pet. My fish has a very strong personality, which surprised me because I never would have guessed this of such a small fish. His entire life revolves around feeding time, which is mornings and evenings both, and he even tries to give me big baby eyes to get a mid-day snack thrown in. Anyway, if you’re crazy then I’m crazy, too.

    Sophie: Thank you! Yes, the flavors are outstanding in this soup. And I’m guessing you either have a fish, or had fish in the past, so you know what I’m talking about!

    Selba: Ah, I’m sorry I forgot about your previous award! Once you reminded me I remembered reading about it. Anyway, you deserve to have two. :)

    5 Star Foodie: It’s a great soup, yes. And what doesn’t go better with nuts? I always add more than the recipe calls for, and then cram a handful by themselves into my mouth at some point, too.

    Greg: I’m glad I was the first to give you a meme. I agree that it’s hard to know what’s too personal to put up on one’s blog. I kind of regret one or two of my own, but oh well. I’ve regretted far worse in the past! I look forward to reading yours if you decide to do ten or a hundred.

    Sweet Charity: As with Selba, I forgot that you did that, but with your reminder I remember with complete clarity. I think my mind is going. I like your idea of including squash or yam, though I have another good veggie dish that uses (real) curry and garbanzo beans, so I’d feel disloyal to that recipe using them in this one. I liked hearing about your near collision with the truck. I’ve never met your mom but I could still picture an “every mom” (actually, my mom) running toward you screaming STOP! Too funny. Glad you didn’t back into it!

    Bangsar-bAbE: I just checked out your “Honest 10” and really enjoyed it. Good luck with #7 so you can go out and eat #10 as much as you possibly can! And yeah, I was vegetarian for a while. I wasn’t a very healthy vegetarian, though. I was more of a cheeseatarian.

    Not that you asked, but I’m going to throw this out there anyway. The reason I never went back to being vegetarian was because with all my living overseas it’s never been practical, and not being willing to eat meat would have deprived me of the cultural experiences I was there to benefit from in the first place. Plus I always felt like I had a lot more energy when I included meat in my diet. I mostly eat fish, and try not to eat much red meat.

  12. Haha "sexiest legs" huh? lol

    The soup looks good. It is weird to call it curry when there is no curry, but maybe because of the cumin? I agree with you that calling the spinach wilted somehow takes away the magic of the dish.

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  13. Sexiest legs? Ha, ha! That is awesome, a title to be proud of for sure. :) Love that you talk to your fish - they need some lovin' too.

    This recipe is going on my must-try soup list. It sounds so great. My kind of thing for sure.

  14. I love soups (I think my blog is very soup- and stew-heavy) and this looks delicious. Thank you for passing on the meme! It's my first one so I'll have to give it some good thought, especially after your own revelations! So you talk to your fish and food talks to you? There must be some very interesting conversations at your place!

    Don't forget to tell us how many grapes you can now cram into your mouth!

  15. Kat: “Sexiest legs” is as embarrassing to me now as it was back in high school. “LOL” for sure. Oh, and I think you’re right that they call it curry because of the cumin. Also, I tried to comment on your blog but the “post comment” didn’t work! Any suggestions on how to do this?

    Lori: Not exactly proud of the title, though I’d gladly trade my present chicken legs for the legs I had in high school. But that’s mostly because I was in better shape then! I’m not sure how much lovin’ my fish feels from my talking to it. It’s mostly just after food. I hope you try the soup. If you do, let me know how it went!

    Tangled Noodle: I look forward to reading your “honesty list.” But I don’t blame you if you put it off or decide not to do it! I still feel new to the blogosphere and don’t know what the etiquette is for most things! But I hereby give you permission to skip it if you’re too busy! Oh, and not all food talks to me. Just the potatoes that star in my fiction. And finally, when grapes are free I’ll let you know how many I can cram in my mouth. Right now they’re too expensive (like all things in Hawaii)…

  16. That is odd for a soup to be called curry when there is not even a whiff of that spice in it!

    Thanks for stopping by and now that I know that you travel....I'll have to stay tuned for when you go to South America. My dream is to visit day, one day!

  17. Hi D !
    All of your photoes are lighter now and perfect to see !
    And all of your recipe are " SUGOI" !!!!!!

  18. Well the soup sounds very good. In fact, we'd probably add curry just so it lives up to its name!

  19. The soup does look really good. Perfect for a cold day. I laughed about the 40 grapes in your mouth; that's a talent!

  20. Fiction? Is there some way to access your fiction? GREG

  21. Rowena: Yeah, that’s one of the more oddly named recipes in the cookbook. But it’s still a great soup! And the South America trip is slated for December. I just hope my employment situation will allow me to go. Patagonia would be great, and I hope you get there soon. Thanks for the comment!

    Masa: Haha! I’m glad the new website works better on your computer. Are you going to make some of my recipes? Masa wa watashi no ryouri o tsukureba…shinjirarenai yo! You need to eat more vegetables, Masa!!

    Duodishes: If you add curry to it, let me know how it goes. I’m afraid to alter the broth’s unique taste!

    MTC: Yes, it’s excellent for a cold day when served hot. And even better on a summer’s day when served cold! I actually prefer it cold. And thank you for commenting on my talent for cramming grapes in my mouth. One needs to be talented at something, right?

    Sippity Sup: Actually, my “food fiction” is one of my blog categories (currently fourth from top). I mainly focus my energy on novels, but perhaps I’ll put more short stuff up here eventually. Except it’s not food-related at all…which I’m afraid will lose readers. :) Thanks for asking!

  22. Good-looking legs, I mean, soup. I agree with your "wilted spinach" and "curry" comments. Sunset people can be confusing.

    I understand the whole thing about talking to your pet fish. I had a pet worm, Edward, when I was in 5th grade who knew all of my secrets. :)

  23. Thanks for the tag, I will get on it soon!

    That curry soup looks great; it's going to be spring tomorrow, but it looks like we will still have a bit of soup weather ahead of us!

  24. Leela: Haha! Your comment cracked me up...twice! A pet worm, eh? Well, everyone needs a confidant! If I had a worm, I'm sure I'd talk to it, too. But how do you know which end to talk to?

    Sugarlens: I hope spring arrives for you soon! And when it starts to warm up, just serve the soup cold. I prefer it that way myself. Thanks for your comment, and don't worry about the tag!

  25. This is looking delicious. Curry soup is my favourite.

  26. James: The funny thing is, there's no curry used in this soup! But the taste is very similar, and it's definitely worth making for the flavors and the spinach. Thanks for your comment!